Most musicians attend the yearly Summer and/or Winter NAMM conventions. People in Germany will be attending the annual Guitar Summit this weekend. Attendees can check out the latest and greatest gear and rub elbows with the musicians they admire. At what point do these corporate entities share the burden of protecting their membership and exhibitors from questionable and shady companies?
Let’s take NAMM, for example. Most, if not all, companies attend NAMM to showcase new products. We notified NAMM of the many ongoing investigations of Lance Benedict and TTM Guitars of alleged fraud and theft against many of his customers not receiving their guitars or refunds they’ve been requesting they never got. NAMM stated there was nothing they can do and left it at that.
Fast forward 60 days later, the story of TTM Guitars and Lance Benedict has taken a life of its own with state and federal authorities investigating him for Illegal Franchises, Mail, Tax and other various forms of fraud and labor law violations. NAMM finally contacted us a few weeks ago and stated they’ve been doing their investigation and have told Mr. Benedict he won’t be allowed to be an exhibitor at Winter NAMM 2020. The phone call was with Mr. Dana Hofseth, Director of HR and Administration and Chalise Zolezzi, Director of Public Relations and Social Media for NAMM. They stated to Mr. Benedict (Cease and Desist) to stop posting publicly that he will be attending Winter NAMM 2020.
When we reported that NAMM did inform Mr. Benedict that he won’t be allowed to be an exhibitor at NAMM, Guitar Summer contacted NAMM to ask if Mr. Benedict was banned from being an exhibitor at NAMM. Ms. Zolezzi stated:
Ms. Zolezzi stated my term of “banned” is inaccurate, but he’s not a current “exhibitor for Winter NAMM 2020” even though Mr. Benedict was heavily advertising through his social media channels that he was.
While Ms. Zolezzi is trying to protect NAMM’s interests and cover up the mistake of allowing Mr. Benedict to exhibit at Summer NAMM 2020 which legitimized his questionable business practices, he’s not “currently” an exhibitor for Winter NAMM 2020 even though he was heavily advertising it?! Especially after he dissolved TTM Guitars LLC in the State of California? Not allowed or banned, you can decide for yourselves.
This brings up Guitar Summits upcoming event this weekend in Mannheim. The gentlemen whose purchasing and importing TTM Guitars wrote to the governing body:
Jean-Philippe Bleys believes all of the current investigations and claims of fraud against Mr. Benedict and TTM Guitars are from 10 years ago when all of them are from the last 12 months. Even though Mr. Benedict made the same questionable accusations ten years ago, then proceeded to file Bankruptcy to avoid paying people back.
Mark Kendall from Great White to All That Shreds
The California Attorney Generals Office, California Department of Oversight, Department of Tax and Fee Administration, Labor, United States Postal Inspection Service and Federal Trade Commission all have open investigations against Mr. Benedict and TTM Guitars. More victims are coming forward daily, asking how to get their money back from Mr. Benedict.
Should organizations like NAMM and Guitar Summit do more to root out and “not allow,” “ban” exhibitors with a long history of verified and documented questionable and shady business practices or continue to look the other way? Does NAMM and Guitar Summit look the other way if a company brings to their attention an exhibitor counterfeiting someone’s product?
These are questions that NAMM and Guitar Summit exhibitors need to ask the governing body instead of their PR people releasing politically correct statements saying they’re not currently an exhibitor when they well know they’ve banned them.